By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au
Aussie basketballer Andrew Bogut turned his back on the NBA to move back home to be with his family. The Sydney Kings star has no regrets and is spreading the message about how sport is important for young kids, and how we should all embrace failure.
Andrew Bogut had the world at his gigantic size 18 feet. At the very top of his sporting game, he went from being named the NBA’s number one draft pick to earning a multimillion-dollar salary playing for big-name teams like the Golden State Warriors or the LA Lakers.
So what is one of Australia’s finest ever basketball exports doing back in Sydney?
“It was a big list of things, actually,” Andrew says.
“But family was the number one reason. I’ve got two young kids now, and with 82 games in the NBA season, you’re just never home. And when you are, you’re always kind of on autopilot, focusing on the next game.
“I didn’t want to retire completely because I thought I still had some basketball in me, so I decided to come and play in Australia.”
You read that right — 82 games in every season. Professional football players in Australia might think their season is gruelling, but it’s nothing compared to the marathon that is a year of playing in the NBA.
In order to squeeze that many games into the season, teams can play as often as five times in a single week, with the any downtime inevitably spent on the team bus or on a plane on the way to the next city.
“It makes it really tough,” Andrew says.
“You’d fly through the night or the early morning to get to the next city to prepare for the next game. Sometimes you get to places at 3am or 4am and you have a game that same day. It’s all about sleeping whenever you can and eating a good meal whenever you can.”
But it wasn’t until he had children that the true impact of that hectic work schedule suddenly came into focus.
Andrew was all set to return to the US earlier this year, but when his wife Jessica became pregnant with the couple’s second child, they decided to stay in Australia.
Andrew promptly signed a two-year deal with the Sydney Kings NBL team — a move that will likely see him play out the rest of his career Down Under.
“There are a lot of changes, your priorities shift,” he says.
“What you thought was important before you had kids tends to go right out the window, and you just want to get home and spend time with them.”
Fatherhood might have introduced different priorities to his own professional life, but it’s also made Andrew realise just how important playing sport is in raising happy and healthy kids.
“I think sport it so important,” he says.
“A lot of schools are making sport an elective or not having it at all and it boggles my mind.
“It teaches you about teamwork and sets you up for later in life. It teaches you how to work with people, to interact with a team, how to win and how to lose. And they’re important principles for everyday life.
“Your kid doesn’t have to be the best. It’s a bigger picture than being an NBA, AFL or NRL player. Because these days, it seems like every kid’s a winner. But children need to experience the negatives, too, so they can learn from them.”
Andrew experienced it all throughout his NBA career, from the soaring highs of winning the championship in 2015 with his Golden State Warriors, to the moments of crippling doubt that accompany repeat injuries, endless surgeries and time on the bench.
But throughout it all, he kept on pushing, no matter the adversity. The secret, he says, is learning to embrace failure as a personal development tool.
“Failure to me is the most valuable tool, not just in sport, but in life,” he says.
“It’s the absolute harshest critic, it never sugar-coats it and it gives you the message point-blank. People think it’s taboo, that failure is embarrassing. I treat it as a good thing.
“Let’s pick apart that failure and see how we can fix it, so the next time there is a game or a work presentation or a school project, we do it differently.”
1. What’s your favourite healthy food?
Bananas, but I have them with a coffee.
2. What’s your favourite cheat meal?
Right now it’s pan-fried schnitzel. Not as bad as a deep-fried one, I guess,
3. What’s your favourite drink to celebrate a win?
A nice golden lager.
4. What’s your favourite pump-up music?
Anything that doesn’t put me to sleep. I have a Croatian background, so there are a couple of Croatian rock songs I listen to.
5. What’s your top motivation tip?
Buddy up. Find a mate (or a neighbour, or a family member) and work out with them. That way, you have someone to hold you accountable.
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